Skip to main content

Archives at The Museum of Flight

Gordon, Richard F. -- oral history interview, 2017 April 18

Astronaut Richard F. “Dick” Gordon is interviewed about his military service and spaceflight career. He describes his experiences as a naval aviator and test pilot during the 1950s, including his time testing the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II and his record-setting cross-country flight during Project LANA. He then discusses his career with NASA during the 1960s and early 1970s. Topics discussed include astronaut selection and training; his involvement with Gemini 8, Gemini 11, and Apollo 12; and his memories of fellow astronauts. The interview concludes with a brief overview of Gordon’s post-NASA career and his thoughts on the newly opened Apollo exhibit at The Museum of Flight.


  • 2017 April 18

Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. Interviews are being made available online on an ongoing basis. For more information contact us.


7.68 Gigabytes (1 master video file, 1 access video file, 1 PDF transcript)

1 Digital recordings : 1 hr., 22 min., 15 sec.

Biographical Note: Richard Gordon

Richard F. “Dick” Gordon was a naval aviator, test pilot, and NASA astronaut who participated in the Gemini and Apollo programs.

Gordon was born on October 5, 1929 in Seattle, Washington. During the Great Depression, his family relocated to Kingston, Washington. He graduated from North Kitsap High School (Poulsbo, Washington) in 1947 and afterwards attended the University of Washington. He graduated in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

During his college years, Gordon enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve and trained at Sand Point Naval Air Station (Washington). After graduation, he joined the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. He received his naval aviator designation in 1953 and subsequently served two tours of duty in the Mediterranean with Fighter Squadron 11 (VF-11), known as the Red Rippers. In 1957, Gordon reported to Naval Air Station Patuxent River (Maryland) to attend Test Pilot School. During his test pilot career, he flew the Vought F8U Crusader, Grumman F11F Tigercat, North American FJ Fury, Douglas A4D Skyhawk, and McDonnell F4H Phantom II. He also served as a F4H instructor with Fighter Squadron 121 (VF-121) and as flight safety officer, assistant operations officer, and ground training officer with Fighter Squadron 96 (VF-96). In 1961, he won the Bendix Trophy Race in a F4H and set a cross-country speed record of two hours and 47 minutes. Gordon’s other assignments during this time include a cruise with the Seventh Fleet aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61) and studies at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

In 1963, Gordon was selected by NASA as part of the third group of astronauts for the Astronaut Corps. He served as backup pilot for Gemini 8 and Apollo 9, as backup commander for Apollo 15, and as primary pilot for Gemini XI and Apollo 12. During Gemini XI (September 12-15, 1966), his mission objectives included two EVAs (extravehicular activities) and executing docking maneuvers with the Agena Target Vehicle. During Apollo 12 (November 14-24, 1969), he piloted the command and service module Yankee Clipper and mapped possible landing sites for future lunar missions. During his two spaceflights, he logged a total of 315 hours and 53 minutes in space.

Gordon retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy in 1972. His post-military careers included serving as Executive Vice President of the New Orleans Saints Professional Football Club; as General Manager of Energy Developers, Limited (EDL); as an executive for Resolution Engineering and Development Company (REDCO) and AMARCO Resources; as Director of the Los Angeles Division of Scott Science and Technology, Inc.; and as President of Astro Sciences Corporation. He also was involved in several charities and community organizations, including the March of Dimes, the Louisiana Heart Fund, and the Boy Scouts of America. Gordon passed away on September 6, 2017.

Gordon and his first wife, Barbara Field, had six children together. He also had two stepchildren from his marriage to his second wife, Linda Saunders.

Biographical information derived from interview, from additional information provided by interviewee, and from online sources.

National Air and Space Administration. “Biographical Data – Richard F. Gordon, Jr.” NASA Astronauts Homepage. Accessed May 1, 2019.

Existence and Location of Copies

This interview available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.


Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
Contact us with a research request